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Affluence tag challenges social services

Posted at 8:00am Tuesday 16 Feb, 2021

Kiri Eriwata, left, and Mary-Anne Boyd of Te Whai Community Trust
Kiri Eriwata, left, and Mary-Anne Boyd of Te Whai Community Trust

A group in Mangawhai has identified a need for expanded social services to meet the area's population growth.

According to Kaipara District Council data, Mangawhai's current population of 5808 is expected to almost double in the next decade to 9088, and reach close to 13,000 by 2051.

Te Whai Community Trust projects manager Kiri Eriwata says it has been difficult getting services to Mangawhai because there is a misconception that the area is wealthy and doesn't need help.

“In fact, it has a diverse population. Rents are high and some families are struggling to make ends meet,” she says.

The trust started in 2019 by providing companionship for elderly people suffering from isolation and is based at the Mangawhai Domain.

Since then, it has grown to meet diverse needs thanks to the efforts of its volunteer “sages”.

Some of the services include budgeting advice, employment support, help with start-up business ideas, children playgroups and the toy library.

It also provides counselling and assistance for people suffering from domestic violence, addiction, early life trauma and elder abuse.

It hands out “aroha baskets” of groceries donated by the community and grown in the gardens at the Te Whai community house.

Kiri says the sages help young mothers who need a break, even just to have the opportunity to have a shower.

There is also a support group for grandparents who take care of their grandchildren full-time.

“We are trying to provide services locally, but need more room to attract them here,” Kiri says.

Te Whai has plans to expand its premises at the Domain with a new 30sqm building, pending Kaipara District Council approval.

Kiri hopes that businesses will come on board as sponsors.

She also hopes to secure a car for Te Whai, which will be used to transport the elderly to support services and teach young people to drive and sit their test in Wellsford.

The Ministry of Social Development has come to the party and has awarded it funding for a social worker this year.

At the end of last year, Te Whai was also able to set up a pod to allow for private counselling sessions.

Family wellbeing coordinator Mary-Boyd says the services are about building community resilience.

“The more kindness we can spread in the area, the better,” she says.

Info: www.tewhaicommunitytrust.co.nz

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